NBA free agency is dying down. Big names like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Josh Smith have all chosen their teams, and even the secondary stars and role players like Tyreke Evens, Paul Millsap, and Andrei Kirilenko have all inked contracts. But there are several under-the-radar free agents left that haven’t been getting much talk. Here are the top 10 players still left:
The 6’10” center from Kenya is a very high-risk, high-reward prospect. On one hand, he has off-the-charts athleticism — he runs the floor like a guard and has vertical explosiveness that is nearly unmatched. A 7’4” wingspan and a 9’2” standing reach suggest limitless defensive potential, but his overall game is VERY raw, almost to the point where he can be unplayable at times. He has trouble playing below the rim, with few developed skills beyond catching and dunking. But overall, NBA teams are excited that he’s finally made his way over to the States after concerns that family pressures would force him to stay in Kenya. He’s reportedly drawing interest from teams looking for a big man off the bench as well as a few rebuilding squads hoping he could grow into a star down the road.
Expected Contract: Three years, $9 million
Best Potential Fits: Dallas, L.A. Clippers, Indiana, New Orleans, Sacramento
9. Bill Murray
Murray’s athleticism has been substantially sapped by his age (he’ll be an astonishing 46 years old by the start of the season), but he remains a highly skilled swingman. His ballhandling and passing in traffic is still breathtaking to watch, but his age renders him almost useless on defense. He always rises to the occasion when called upon, but you can’t go to the well very often. He’d fit best on a contender looking for veteran help.
Expected Contract: One year, $2 million
Best Potential Fits: New York, Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Chicago
8. Calvin Cambridge
After a long, drawn-out legal proceeding, a federal judge finally ruled that Cambridge is eligible to play in the NBA, regardless of the age restriction established by the collective bargaining agreement. Cambridge is astoundingly skilled for a young player , although his athletic ability is raising eyebrows around the league — many front-office executives are worried he’d test positive for PEDs. “How does a 14-year-old have a 42-inch vertical?” asked one Western Conference GM. There are also obviously maturity questions. How will he handle his first breakup? What if it turns out he really likes the taste of beer? Still, a team looking to build for the future could try to lock him up on a long-term deal if the price is right.
Expected Contract: 4 years, $8 million
Best Potential Fits: Phoenix, Orlando, Philadelphia
7. Ricky Roe
Roe is a somewhat-undersized power forward (just 6’8”), but he scraps and bangs with bigger players and actually has a creative offensive game around the basket. He doesn’t have much of a shooting stroke to speak of, and once he gets the ball inside it’s basically guaranteed that he’s going to shoot it, but he can still be an effective player in short doses. He’d be a nice third or fourth big man for any team in the market for one.
Expected Contract: Three years, $15 million
Best Potential Fits: L.A. Clippers, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Chicago
6. Lola Bunny
Bunny ended all criticisms that she was only in the league as a publicity stunt very quickly last season. She makes up for her lack of size with out-of-this-world quickness and precision in the pick-and-roll. She’s not a star by any means, but she’s a supremely creative offensive player and would be a dynamic third guard/sixth man for any team looking for an offensive punch.
Expected Contract: Three years, $24 million
Best Potential Fits: Atlanta, Washington, Indiana, Chicago
5. Scott Howard
There isn’t a more divisive free agent on the market right now than Howard. Across the board, every team loves his base level of performance — he’s a smart passer, a good shooter, a plus defender — just an all-around solid player. However, he goes through transformations on the court that create a polarizing view of his game. Some teams salivate over his explosiveness and unmatched scoring ability, but others are concerned about his tendency to play hero-ball during those stretches (on more than one occasion, he has stolen the ball from his own teammates). A team desperate for talent would be wise to offer a one-year flier to see if he can mesh.
Expected Contract: One year, $10 million
Best Potential Fits: Dallas, Milwaukee, Minnesota
4. Sidney Dean/Billy Hoyle
I’ve lumped these two together because agent Bob Sugar has made it very clear to teams with cap space that they shouldn’t bother offering one a contract unless they plan on extending an offer to the other. Dean and Hoyle are very much a package deal this offseason, even if it means they’ll each have to take pay cuts for it to happen. Although both are very undersized (Deane is just 5’9”, Hoyle 5’11”), Hoyle possesses game-changing vertical explosiveness and Deane throws lobs better than anyone else in basketball. When they’re on the court together it’s a constant alley-oop threat, even in traffic over taller players. Think of them as the poor man’s LeBron and Wade.
Expected Contract: Three years, $12 million (each)
Best Potential Fits: L.A. Lakers, Boston
3. Jimmy Chitwood
Chitwood is the most coveted shooter in the free agent class. He has nearly unlimited range and is just about automatic from anywhere inside the three-point line. If you can create even an inch of airspace for him, he can get his shot off, and he’ll usually make it. The rest of his game is still developing — if you crowd him on the catch he can’t create much off the dribble, and his poor lateral quickness can be a liability on defense, but teams looking for wing shooting aren’t going to do any better than Chitwood.
Expected Contract: Two years, $17 million
Best Potential Fits: Oklahoma City, Memphis, Indiana, Chicago, Detroit
2. Jesus Shuttlesworth
Shuttlesworth straddles the line between star and a superstar. He’s a lights-out shooter with a strong off-the-dribble game, a capable passer, a good athlete, and a respectable defender. The only real criticism of his game is that he’s not a top-end dynamic offensive player along the lines of LeBron, Durant, or Derrick Rose. He’s probably closer to Reggie Miller, Manu Ginobili, or Ray Allen in his prime, comfortably a near-max player, but one with limitations and a checkered past (including his father in prison) that will probably keep him from getting much more.
Expected Contract: Four years, $64 million
Best Potential Fits: Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Miami
1. Neon Bodeaux
Boudeaux is a future star, without a doubt. He’s absolutely massive (7’1”, 310 lbs.) but has the quickness and athleticism of a much smaller player, and he’s absolutely unguardable with his back to the basket. From the post all he has to do is dribble twice and turn into the middle of the paint, and he’s at the rim. The only potential downsides are his poor free-throw shooting and a few whispered character questions — he is rumored to have accepted under-the-table benefits in college and hasn’t exactly been a model citizen in the league so far. Despite that, he’ll get a max contract offer from just about everybody who can offer one.
Expected Contract: Four years, $88 million
Best Potential Fits: Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Orlando, Los Angeles Lakers (trying to work a sign-and-trade), Miami (would reportedly trade Bosh for him), Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston